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Four Injured On Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Battered By Hurricane-Force Winds

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A Royal Caribbean cruise ship with nearly 5,000 passengers was headed to Port Canaveral today after hurricane-force winds and waves battered the vessel off the South Carolina Coast.

Four injuries were reported, according to the company, which said none of the injuries were “severe.”

The vessel was set to arrive by noon at the port, but its arrival has been delayed.

Port Canaveral has received preliminary word that the ship would not arrive until 7 a.m. Tuesday, but Royal Caribbean has not released a statement.

The vessel departed from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, on Saturday for a seven-day cruise and already was in route to Port Canaveral when it began to experience the extreme wind and sea conditions, the cruise line reported on its Twitter feed.

“In an abundance of caution, the captain asked all guests to stay in their stateroom until the weather improved,” the cruise line said in a statement.

The ship, one of the world’s largest cruise ships, did receive some damage to its public areas and some of its guest staterooms. The ship will be inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard once at Port Canaveral.

“I’m not going to lie: It was truly terrifying,” Robert Huschka, executive editor of the Detroit Free Press, told USA TODAY.

Huschka is on board the ship with his family.

Huschka said the captain of the vessel made an announcement at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday as the storm raged that passengers should remain in their cabins, saying the strength of the storm had surprised everyone, and that the ship would hold position and try to turn into it.

The captain then was unavailable for announcements as the storm continued into the evening.

“A very nervous cruise director kept coming on. He didn’t sound very reassuring. He said, ‘We are OK,’ ” Huschka said.

The situation began to improve late in the evening, and by 1:00 a.m. Monday the ship had resumed sailing toward Florida.

“The captain told everyone this morning that the day was among his most challenging — if not his most challenging— at sea,” Huschka said.

Jason Idone, operations manager of Merritt Island-based Sunward Tours, which provides tours for cruise ship passengers, said his company is waiting to hear from Royal Caribbean on the ship’s new schedule.

Idone said Sunward was planning for tours for more than 2,000 passengers. Destinations included Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Cocoa Beach, airboat, kayak and pontoon boat tours, and Orlando-area theme parks.

The ship was scheduled to be at Port Canaveral until 11 p.m.

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John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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